Excerpt from “Chickenhawk” by Robert Mason ~~Head Wounds~~

picture-Chickenhawk-MasonThe Hueys lined up side by side. Engines were shut down, and the pilots jumped out, carrying their gear. The crew chiefs waited patiently to tie the blades down and postflight their machines. As the pilots got closer, we could hear some whooping and yelling in their midst. It wasn’t what we expected to hear after the news of the wounded.
At the Big Top, it was obvious why they were happy. The two wounded pilots, both from the other platoon, were walking with them, grinning and laughing with the rest. The blood from their wounds had dried in their hair and on their faces.
Both men had been hit in the head on the last lift. One had been shot from the front and the other from the side. Both were clutching their helmets, pointing at the holes. One guy had had a bullet hit the visor knob on the forehead portion of his flight helmet. The bullet had crushed his helmet and glanced off. His scalp was bleeding.
The other lucky soul walked around holding his helmet with a finger stuck into the holes on each side of it. Dried blood matted his hair on each side of his head. It was a magician’s illusion. The bullet had to have gone through his head, from what we could see. We wanted to know the trick.
‘I figured it out on the way back,’ he said. ‘I mean, after I stopped feeling for the holes on each side of my head and asking Ernie if I was still alive!’ He was still pale, but he laughed. ‘The bullet hit while we were on short final to X-Ray. Luckily, Ernie was flying. It felt like somebody had hit me on the head with a bat. It blurred my vision. First I thought that a bullet had hit me on the helmet and somehow bounced off. Ernie first noticed the blood. He’d turned to tell me about a round going through the canopy in front of him when he saw it.’ I could imagine the guy seeing the jagged hole in the side of his friend’s flying helmet, blood dripping down his neck. ‘I reached up to feel my helmet and felt the hole on the right side, but Ernie said the blood was coming from the other side. I put my left hand up and felt that hole! I pulled both hands down quickly, and they were both bloody! I felt the helmet again. Two holes all right. Two wounds all right. One on each side of my head. I couldn’t believe I was still alive!’ He passed the helmet round while he continued his story. ‘See, it hit here.’ He pointed in front of his right ear. ‘The bullet hit this ridge of bone and deflected up between my scalp and the inside of my helmet. Then’ – he shook his head in disbelief – ‘then it circled around inside the top of the helmet and hit this ridge of bone on my left side.’ He pointed. ‘It was deflected out here, through the helmet and on through the canopy in front of Ernie!’ He beamed. I saw the path the bullet made as it tore its way around through the padding on the inside of the helmet and the two wounds on each side of his head. I shook my head. God again?

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1 Comment

Filed under Literature, Military, Non-Fiction

One response to “Excerpt from “Chickenhawk” by Robert Mason ~~Head Wounds~~

  1. Robert Mason is an American born on 20 March 1942. He piloted the Bell UH-1 Iroquois (“Huey”) helicopter in the United States Army, serving a one year tour in Vietnam between August 1965 and July 1966.

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